Best spring break ideas for families
2.5 hours by car from NYC
Hurry! You'll want to visit Cape May before the Jersey Shore becomes packed over the summer. This beachy destination, located on the southern tip of New Jersey, is full of great spots for families and curious kids. In addition to strolling along its white sand beaches, families can explore the remains of the U.S.S. Atlantus or venture out into the waters on a tour with Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center (1121 Rt 109, NJ, 609-898-0055, capemaywhalewatch.com). Head to the Cape May Count Park & Zoo, (707 N. Rt. 9, NJ, 609-465-5271, cmczoo.com) an admission-free park complete with trolley trains, a carousel, a rock climbing wall and the Tree to Tree Adventure Park (various prices). If you’re in Cape May on a day with clear skies, pack a picnic lunch and climb the 199 steps to get to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse. Rest your head at the Beach Shack, where families will find enough space within its suites and four-legged family members are welcomed with a Paws Up! Dog Package filled with treats, dining credits and special amenities (205 Beach Ave, Cape May, NJ, 609-884-6542, caperesorts.com).
4 hours by car from NYC
A trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (25 Main St, Cooperstown, NY, 607-547-7200, baseballhall.org) is the perfect place to learn all about America's pastime. Catch a game up the road at Abner Doubleday Field or get a glimpse of your favorite players during a visit to the Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum (99 Main St, 607-547-1273, thisiscooperstown.com). However, baseball isn't the only attraction: Fenimore Art Museum (5798 NY-80, Cooperstown, NY, 607-547-1400, fenimoreartmuseum.org) features 20th century American decorative art, photography and American Indian art housed in an estate overlooking Otsego Lake. City children will get a taste of the village life at the Farmers’ Museum (5775 State Highway 80, Cooperstown, NY, 607-547-1450, farmersmuseum.org) where they’ll participate in hands-on activities, watch dramatic interpretations of historical events, feed animals in the Children’s Barnyard and more. Don't forget to stop for freshly-made cider at Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard (288 Goose Street, Fly Creek, NY, 607-547-9692, flycreekcidermill.com) before tucking in at The Cooper Inn (15 Chestnut St, 607-547-2567, cooperinn.com).
2 hours by car from NYC
This Suffolk County town boasts more than just the sprawling Tanger Outlet. It's home to the Long Island Aquarium, (431 E Main St, Riverhead, NY, 631-208-9200, longislandaquarium.com) which houses penguins, otters, octopus and one of the largest all-living, closed-system Coral Reef displays. Children will love getting their hands wet at the touch tank and taking a look at the sharks (those who are brave enough can cage dive with them)! Refuel at Turkuaz Grill, a spot full of homey vibes, delicious Mediterranean fare and outdoor picnic tables (40 McDermott Ave, Riverhead, NY, 631-591-1757, turkuazgrillriverhead.com). If the kids are itching to get into the water, Splish Splash Water Park satisfies that craving with 96 acres of water rides, pools and tube slides (2549 Splish Splash Dr, Calverton, NY, 631-727-3600, splishsplash.com). Book a stay at Cove Place Inn when you're ready to call it quits for the day (15 Bay Ave, Aquebogue, NY 631-722-3212, heharborfrontinn.com/cove-place-inn).
3 hours by car from NYC
This seaside escape is full of maritime-related activities for families, such as the Mystic Aquarium (55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT, 860-572-5955, mysticaquarium.org). Can’t tear yourself away after the park closes? Families can register for an overnight stay where they’ll explore the grounds after hours, work on crafts and participate in a scavenger hunt before tucking in next to their favorite indoor exhibit. To explore the life of the sailors who roamed the seas, head to the Mystic Seaport where kids will learn to tie knots, create maritime art, climb aboard a fleet of playscapes and make toy crafts to take home (75 Greenmanville Ave, 860-973-2767, Mystic, CT, mysticseaport.org). Munch on lobster salad rolls, clam cakes and other light fare at the Galley Restaurant—there’s outdoor seating and an ice cream shoppe with house made cookie ice cream sandwiches to treat the tiniest of seafarers (75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT, 860-572-0711, mysticseaport.org). Kick your heels up at the Inn at Mystic (3 Williams Ave, Mystic, CT, 860-536-9604, innatmystic.com).
2 hours by car from NYC
Whether your kids are into indoor fun, outdoor adventures or close encounters with their favorite TV characters, this spot has it all. As the home of Sesame Place, children will love meeting Elmo, Big Bird and the rest of the furry gang while experiencing thrilling rides tailored just for them (100 Sesame Rd, Langhorne, PA, 215-702-3566, sesameplace.org). The Bucks County Children’s Museum offers interactive educational exhibits where kids can dig for buried treasure, design and build their own race car, learn how to operate the Delaware Canal system (500 Union Square Drive, New Hope, PA, 212-693-1290, buckskids.org). Little ones can take a ride on the hand-carved wooden figures on the restored 1922 Grand Carousel at Giggleberry Fair before enjoying arcade games in the Game Room or strolling through the shops at 18th-century Peddler’s Village. Giggles Discovers was made for the curious 6 and under set; with a fire station, make-your-own puppet show and the Waterway full of splashing activities, there’s no telling where their imagination will take them. Don't forget to make a pit stop at Giggleberry Mountain, an indoor obstacle course that’ll give you a run for your money (Peddler's Village, Rt 202 & 263, 215-794-4047, peddlersvillage.com). When hunger strikes, choose from the variety of dining options in Peddler’s Village. Outdoorsy types can explore the boulder field at Ringing Rocks Park (Ringing Rocks Road, 215-348-6114) or pitch a tent at the Colonial Woods Family Camping Resort (545 Lonely Cottage Drive, Upper Black Eddy, PA, 610-847-5808 colonialwoods.com). If it’s a laid-back escape you’re looking for, hop on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad for a 45-minute trip through the countryside on a 1925 steam locomotive (32 W Bridge St, New Hope, PA, 215-862-2332, newhoperailroad.com).
3 hours by car from NYC
If any members in your crew have a sweet tooth, then a trip to Hershey Park is a must (100 W Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA, 717-534-3900, hersheypark.com). Chocolate Avenue Grill will delight all eaters, even the picky ones (717-835-0888, 114 W. Chocolate Ave, Hershey PA, chocolateavenuegrill.com). At the Hershey Lodge, kids get their own special check-in, sign a guest book, play a Hershey’s candy guessing game and receive their own personalized lanyard and chocolatey treat (325 University Dr, Hershey, PA, 844-330-1802, hersheylodge.com).
5 hours by car from NYC
Lake Placid offers families a place to catch their breath with hiking trails, rock climbing, fishing and paddle boating. Kids will get a kick out of Bowlwinkles’ Bowling Alley, bounce house and arcade games (2750 Main St, Lake Placid, NY, 518-302-0654, bowlwinkles.net). While you’re in the area, be sure to make a stop at High Falls Gorge for an amazing walk around four waterfalls. Afterwards, share a thin and crispy pizza pie at Lisa G’s or have the kids select from their own menu (6125 Sentinel Rd, Lake Placid, NY, 518-523-2093, lisags.com). Once the kids are tuckered out, head to your room at Cobble Mountain where their range of cozy room and cabins can host families of all sizes (2983 Wilmington Rd, Lake Placid, NY, 518-302-5690, cobblemountainlodgellc.com).